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RIP Don Brown

Words: John Gunnell

Donald ("Don," "Pedigo") Lee Brown died on April 19, 2019. He was preceded in death by his mother, Margaret (Peg) Elliott (née Bringardner); his father, Fred Brown; and his brother, George "Larry" Brown. Don was the father of well-known Bonneville racer Doug Brown and a member of the Victory Motorsports Land Speed Racing Team.

Don is survived by his wife of 59 years, Judith Class Brown; his children, Marcia Louise Ziepke (Jon Ziepke), Douglas Burton Brown (Sheri Hakes), and Jennifer Brown Dargan (Sean Michael Dargan); his grandchildren, Amanda Leigh (Jeremey Landskron), Ashley Graff (Aaron Graff), Adam Ziepke (Julia Ziepke), Alex Ziepke, Margo Dargan, Liam Dargan; his great grandchildren, Tyler Graff, Devon Graff, Parker Landskron, Isaac Landskron, Riley Graff, and Nora Graff; and sister, Margaret Kaye Tomlinson (née Brown).

Don was born on July 14, 1936 in Newark, Ohio. He graduated from Newark High School and attended Ohio State University.

He served in the U.S. Army as a Screaming Eagle in the 101st Airborne Division from 1956-1958.

He started his career at Rockwell International in Heath, Ohio. Then they moved to Nestor Falls, Ontario to operate the Maple Leaf Gift Shop and Canoe Outfitters from 1969-1979. After moving to Wisconsin, he worked at Oshkosh Truck/Freightliner Corporation until he retired in 1998.

In Nestor Falls, Don was a charter member of the local Lions Club chapter. He was instrumental in organizing the town's first volunteer fire department and was a volunteer ambulance driver.

Don was a true craftsman who could build or fix anything. He had a sign in his workshop that read "Pedigo's Custom Works. No projects turned away. Difficult items done as routine. Impossible things take more time and cost extra money."

His most notable projects included: a 1946 Chevy pickup truck with stained glass running boards and cherry wood bed; a Datsun 240Z car which he ran at the Bonneville Salt Flats with his son (they captured land speed records together); a highly customized 1933 Chevy roadster; houses he built for himself and Judy; houses for all three of his children; and a log cabin restaurant, "Lawg Caybun," in Nestor Falls.

Throughout his life Don enjoyed and prioritized his family, always looking for ways to help out and teach them new skills. In retirement he enjoyed playing bocce ball and attending music jams at Winter Haven Resort. He also loved woodworking and spending time with his dog Oreo and late dog Browser.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation OneWalk through which Don was a loving supporter of his great-grandson at or to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation at

A celebration of his life will be held later this year.